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[untitled]

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00:30:00

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San Francisco, CA, USA

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Comcast Cable

TUNER
Channel 89 (615 MHz)

VIDEO CODEC
mpeg2video

AUDIO CODEC
ac3

PIXEL WIDTH
544

PIXEL HEIGHT
480

TOPIC FREQUENCY

Los Angeles 4, Herminie 3, Las Vegas 2, Sinha 2, Pennsylvania 2, Shapiro 2, The City 2, Atlanta 2, Southern California 2, The West 1, Hartsfield 1, Oberstar 1, Usda 1, The Bank 1, United States 1, City 1, Doheny Beach 1, Los Angeles County 1, Astounded Me 1, The Usda 1,
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  SFGTV2    [untitled]  

    November 12, 2012
    6:30 - 6:59am PST  

6:30am
monongahela river, which is a main supplier of drinking water for the region. hecht: what has happened because of the restoration is the water overflows its banks, it floods into these nice flood plains with native plants. and then slowly the water percolates back down into the stream. narrator: this allows the land to naturally filter and clean the sewer overflows before they enter the river. the restoration included extensive environmental changes to improve the stream and infrastructure changes to reduce the csos into the watershed. hecht: when i first started talking with people about stream restoration, i kind of imagined people out with shovels and small-scale. this is a massive $7.7 million project. schombert: nine mile run watershed is the most significant urban watershed restoration ever done in the united states. narrator: small-scale projects like nine mile run
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have far-reaching environmental impact. but they're just one part of the regional wet weather control plan. schombert: this region needs to solve its problem by 2026. that's not that long away. this is the largest public works project ever undertaken in this region. lichte: you're looking at significant infrastructure. either tunnels or storage tanks, or, you know, treatment facilities. the cost is about $3 billion. lichte: if you look at some of the other cities that have gone through this, their rates have gone up significantly. the federal government provides a number of grant programs but the bottom line is, you know, it's not enough. there's a massive need of money out there for wastewater and water infrastructure improvements around the country. narrator: the struggle for funds is as great in small towns as it is in metropolitan areas. oberstar: the federal government has let down municipalities.
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the first investment under the '72 clean water act was to deal with the biggest waste streams. and after a period of six or seven years, to then go to municipalities under 250,000 population. but that was just about the time when the federal government converted to a loan program. so smaller-sized communities have had to deal with repayable loans. a larger cost on a smaller tax base, and, arguably, less affluent communities. man: sewickley township is a rural farming community, however, herminie itself would be considered to be the downtown area of the township. it's the agways, the auto-parts store, the bank. it's your typical small-town village. man: people think that rural areas
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are pristine and perfect and everybody has a nice, simple life. that's, uh, not exactly the situation here. when you come into town in the summer, you know you're coming to herminie. woman: the aroma in 90-degree days... can sometimes just want to knock you over. woman: we have water. we have power, we have gas, but we have no sewage. i guess when they laid out the town years ago, it just all went into the pipes and straight into the "crick." sabljak: i've lived here 43 years in the same house. when i moved here, they told us that sewage would be here shortly. and here it is 43 years later and we still don't have it. my husband and i went to the first meeting. he always said, "boy, i'll never see it in my lifetime." well...
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my husband passed away last december. man: right now, the wastewater in herminie is going to basically three places -- in the street, down mine shafts, or into the creeks. i think we're very lucky that we haven't had some kind of serious health problem. sabljak: i came up one morning to get my newspaper, and there was this pool of stench up here. there was a pipe spouting, like a fountain, with everything coming out. everything was on the road already. i could see toilet paper. i could see other things that were... that you would put in a sewer. mcmillen: well, i was actually born and raised in westmoreland county so i have been aware of the conditions in herminie all my life. herminie has declined, because for any type of business of any size to come in and create jobs, they need the infrastructure there, and in herminie, it's just not there.
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narrator: to address community frustrations, sewickley township, home of herminie, created a sewer authority board in 1998. it's comprised of residents and business owners who worked for almost a decade to get sewage infrastructure for the area. miller: we were novices. i don't think anybody in the township knew where to go. and we were frustrated at times. we thought we were right on the cusp of getting funding, and then, something happened and we didn't get it. yeah, we could go out and float a loan, and probably people would be looking at maybe $100 a month in sewage bills. so what you have to try to do is get enough funding to keep sewage rates at a reasonable rate so people can afford them. and that's been a real problem. without grant money, it can't be done. mcmillen: they were in line, waiting for our money. they had an application on my desk. but when someone has no funding, usually they sit and wait. the problem is, the amount of money given
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in the federal budget and the state budget is just not enough to fund infrastructure. we have a $200 million backlog on my desk alone. and that would be our entire state's allocation for 4, 5, or 6 years. schwartz: the usda asked that i go to herminie and provide an independent evaluation of the problems to determine if it was severe enough to warrant funding. i've worked in a lot of communities in pennsylvania, i've seen a lot of things that were pretty startling, however, the trip to herminie absolutely, um... astounded me. i wrote a letter to usda, saying that it was the worst thing i'd ever seen in pennsylvania and that if they could award funding, that they do so. and they did. they did. over $15 million, grant and loan, for that project. mcmillen: and it took years to get funding. what kept this project going was the steadfastness
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of the community -- they knew they needed sewage, and they just kept plugging along till we got through every issue that came up. the project will consist of 44 miles of line that we're going to put in, and a treatment plant. it will permanently eliminate the problem, the health hazards. i anticipate a definite regrowth in herminie, and it will be a good thing for everybody. zdravecky: maybe it won't help me too much because i'm an old lady, but whoever comes along after me will get the benefit. schwartz: there's nothing isolated about the herminie situation. it's a very common problem. it's a town that was built before current standards. this is not backwoods rural america at all. it's just an unfortunate situation that was created probably a hundred years ago or more. and the people have to pay for it in a big way now. because the government is choosing to spend its money elsewhere right now,
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there's very limited money for communities to install adequate drinking water and wastewater, and i think it's criminal. that's my feeling. this country has to get its priorities right, and they're wrong right now. narrator: herminie faces problems because of the way its residents laid out the town generations earlier. across the country, many other cities and towns deal with the unexpected consequences from their early infrastructure design. los angeles county is a land of sprawling development. with development comes hundreds of square miles of concrete, leaving no way for water to naturally soak into the ground. in areas of such widespread urbanization, flooding can be devastating. man: back in early 1930s, there was a flooding that took a lot of lives and property.
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as a result, the city of los angeles, in order to protect future flooding in the city, they decided to take the los angeles river and make it a flood control channel. they concreted the walls of the river in order for water to get to ocean much faster. narrator: cities throughout southern california converted natural rivers to these concrete channels, part of their storm drain systems. this allowed expanding development without the need for large flood plains. kharaghani: the los angeles river is approximately 51 miles. concrete reduces the size of the river that you need to carry the water because it speeds up the flow of water. if you'd like to remove all the concrete and to have natural system to carry the water to protect you from flooding, you need to have almost one mile on each side of the river set aside for transport of rain. so in order for the city to have
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use of those lands around the river, concrete made it possible to have minimum land so the water can be carried to the ocean in the fastest possible way. but, unfortunately, because of population growth and poor housekeeping, people are putting a lot of pollutants on the street and the streets are the openings to our stormwater sewer system. in an average year, 4,000 to 5,000 tons of trash ends up in long beach. man: we've created a system to deal with flooding but inadvertently created a pathway for pollution to get into our waterways. narrator: los angeles county is beginning to develop ways to reduce the infrastructure's impact upon the environment. on the front lines of protecting the beaches, are the crews that clean out the stormwater system. man: this big vactor truck works on the same principle as your vacuum cleaner in your house, only this thing sucks up the whole house. some of the storm drains collect a lot of trash.
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i started cleaning drains in '93. they were horrible because they hadn't been maintained so much. now this is a priority. you have trash, animal waste, and it ends up on our beaches. that is a health risk. that is one of the main reasons why we have to close the beaches after heavy rain. narrator: but even when it's not raining, water still enters the stormwater system, carrying pollutants. here on the west coast, a lot of our storm drain systems are separate from the sanitary sewer system, so if you dump something in the storm drain, it goes right to the ocean untreated. alamillo: we haven't had a major rainstorm in the last year or so yet there's a lot of water in this creek here. i would say 20% of it is natural and the other 80% is runoff. shapiro: the purpose of the smurrf is to treat dry weather runoff, which is coming from storm drains.
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dry-weather runoff occurs when people waste water through washing their cars in the street, hosing down sidewalks and parking lots, their irrigation systems overspray. narrator: in a city of 12 million people, those seemingly small bits of wasted water accumulate to enormous amounts. shapiro: so all that ends up in our streets, ends up in catch basins, storm drains, into our storm drain system, and for some of the city, parts of the city, it ends up here at smurrf. 350,000 gallons come here on a daily basis, producing recycled water, and that can be reused for landscape irrigation and indoor toilet flushing. the pumps can only handle so much water, which is generally when it's not rain, the dry-weather runoff, so if you get a storm of a decent size, the pumps will shut down automatically and the water will just continue to flow out into the ocean and it carries a lot of bacteria and people can get sick when they're swimming in the water near a flowing storm drain.
6:43am
everyone knows you don't go in the water for 72 hours after it rains. you just don't. this is the dirtiest beach in southern california. doheny beach. i've surfed this twice -- i've gotten sick both times. narrator: san juan creek, a concrete flood control channel, flows directly to doheny beach. moriarty: the concrete you can almost think of as a big water slide for pollutants to go to sea level. man: if it rains more than 2/10 of an inch, the county puts out a health advisory for all beaches in the county. that totaled 75 days in 2006. so it's sort of a frightening thing that it's so polluted that every time it rains, we have to stay out of the ocean for three days. moriarty: to be sick after surfing isn't like, "oh, i have a runny nose," and tomorrow it's gone. can be a lot of different things. nelsen: they include gastroenteritis, which is an upset stomach, and sinus infections, ear infections, eye infections, and there's also
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virulent versions of streptococcus that can actually cause severe illness and even death. moriarty: our goal with surfrider foundation is essentially to have the city understand that the water is, in fact, dirty, and then work with the infrastructure and the various issues to change that. narrator: but building more systems and more plants can't work alone as a sustainable solution. and, as in pittsburgh, as in new york, part of the answer lies in protecting the watershed. nelsen: we need to reduce the amount of impervious surfaces in our watershed, which are surfaces that don't let the water soak in and then create more pervious surface, whether it's by having driveways that allow water to soak in or different landscaping to try to eliminate the amount of runoff that comes off our land so that the system, even with the development it has, acts more like a natural system and filters that water.
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water quality and sewage infrastructure isn't the sexiest of political agendas, but by raising the awareness about water quality issues, we can create political pressure to get our issues solved. about 15 years ago, surfrider activists were protesting a beach for being polluted. the city council asked the police to escort them away. there was complete denial of the problem. 15 years later, water quality is on the agenda of every city council person in that local city, and that's completely a result of activists forcing the issue, surfrider and other local groups, saying, "hey, these water quality issues are real and you need to address them." and only until the public sort of creates that will will the politicians respond. narrator: while some cities deal with infrastructure issues, others have concerns about the sustainability of water supplies. allbee: it's not just about the sustainability of the assets,
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it's about the sustainability of our water resources. parts of this country that thought of themselves as water rich 20, 30 years ago, now are discovering that they really are not water rich, they have source supply issues, they have serious questions about how they're going to accommodate additional growth in their communities. melosi: if we can find alternatives, we can preserve a water supply. conservation of water is a way of generating more water. allbee: we think that a household can actually reduce its water usage by about 30%. and that's hugely important in terms of the amount of infrastructure that community's going to require. narrator: las vegas is one of the fast-growing areas in the country. it's a relatively new city under constant construction. but because it's in the arid mojave desert, the challenge of las vegas is supply.
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woman: all the growth and everything that's occurred in southern nevada has been with colorado river water. without it, the west as you know it today couldn't exist. narrator: to sustain their growing community with its limited supply, las vegas learned to be extremely efficient. mulroy: this is a desert, and it has its own beauty, but you have to get beyond what you're used to. as long as people recognize they're moving to the desert and give up this notion that they have to bring eastern vegetation with them and make the necessary adaptations in their own life, desert communities can continue to live. man: the biggest water user in the desert is turf. turf uses a lot of irrigation and uses spray irrigation, so what we've done here is use artificial turf.
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you're never going to be able to achieve the look of back east or the look of, say, california, with subtropical plants, but our landscapes are still lush and use about 30% of what the subtropical landscape with turf would use. las vegas has adopted a drought tolerant ordinance. we're using less water today than we used five years ago, despite over 300,000 new residents. i think it's a pretty amazing example as to how a town can really turn on a dime if there's the political will and if the public gets behind it. narrator: even the casinos and resorts have adapted to efficient water use. mulroy: the las vegas strip uses only 3% of all the water that we deliver. and when you think about it, it's the largest economic driver in the state, the largest employer, bar none. they knew they had to go the extra mile.
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and they've embraced conservation. and it's almost beyond belief that they're right now in the process of building another 15,000 rooms. southern nevada recycles 100% of its wastewater. so for every gallon we put back in the colorado, we can take an additional gallon out, or we send it to reuse facilities. and we deliver it to golf courses and parks and other outside applications. man: water's about a third of our budget. that's a lot of money. the lake right over here, 24 hours ago that was in somebody's house. it's been through a treatment plant. and now it's in our lake and we're watering with it. narrator: these reuse and conservation techniques enable las vegas to exist in the desert.
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another important form of conservation is preventing leaks. man: every drop counts. all water systems have what they call an efficiency rating. so if you were to measure the water that goes into your system and compare it to the water that goes out, how much is unaccounted for? most states have a goal of 10%. ours is at only 5.5% right now. and we have plans to lower that to 4%. man: we actually have our entire distribution system mapped out in a computerized or electronic format. and we can locate our pipes, we can locate our valves, we can locate water meters that are out there. we've got small units installed in the distribution system. and they actually listen for leaks. we can schedule the repair, minimize its impacts to the surrounding community, and it minimizes cost, because obviously, if you've got a leak
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that's been leaking for sometime, you're going to see a lot of undermining of the roadways, potential property damage. fisher: all the sensors in the field come into this location. these two operators behind me operate the entire water system, 24/7. so we can see all of our reservoirs, their elevations, whether they're going up or down, how much water we're getting from our two treatment plants. we try to move it very quickly through the system and serve it to our customers in the most economic and efficient manner. narrator: las vegas serves as an example for cities across the country, whether they have a limited supply or not. and many utilities can identify with the struggles that come with maintaining underground assets to support a growing population. one of the most common issues that municipalities share is water loss. melosi: because it's not a catastrophic issue,
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we don't think much about it. but there is a 10%, 20%, 30% water loss or leakage in some systems. allbee: already treated water that you've invested money in, you're losing before you actually delivered it. narrator: so many utilities are employing the business strategy of asset management. it's a paradigm shift in the approach of attaining a sustainable water infrastructure. man: it's not construction of new pipelines. we are talking about maintaining, sustaining the infrastructure we have. you've got to know what you have, where it is, what condition it's in, and how long you can expect it to last. melosi: we have very little choice because we've invested in a system that cannot be readily changed. we don't leave a lot of flexibility to dig that all up and replace it with something else. sinha: so we have to also teach our students,
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the workforce, that there is a new science -- repair, renewal, and rehabilitation. that's different from building something new. you cannot fix each and every crack in the city. it's like each city, you're talking about 3,000, 5,000 miles of pipe. so you have to prioritize where they can go and fix the system. narrator: each city faces unique situations, so they must determine the asset management approach that best addresses these challenges. inspections can be done with various technologies, often by a robot... or personally by a technician on a bicycle. sensors detect breaks, cracks, and weaknesses in the pipe. man: we have roots at this cap lateral at 79. narrator: tree roots can grow into the pipe, splitting it apart. man: more light roots at 69. narrator: sometimes they may even find fully collapsed sections.
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after gathering the data, utilities can assess the need for rehabilitation. sinha: you have to choose the rehabilitation technique so that the life of the pipe can be extended 30 years, 40 years, 50 years. allbee: any asset has an optimal investment strategy. if you're making investments in that asset too early, or too late, you're wasting money. it costs about three times as much to fix a system once it's failed. so it's all about finding that right point where the dollars should flow toward that asset. narrator: but finding the funds to evaluate and rebuild these assets is an ongoing struggle. johnson: there is a gap between what's being spent by municipalities and water supply systems and what needs to be spent. and somehow that has to be made up.
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so there's a good bit of lobbying through congress to get funding. oberstar: we need to restore the construction grant program. we need to invest substantially more, on the federal government side, as an inducement to states and local governments to make the investments they need to make. man: but the federal role is going to continue to be diminished because of so many competing demands. so the expectation that the federal government will step in and infuse a lot of capital into water infrastructure, i think, is doubtful. and whether they should or not, i think, will continue to be debated. narrator: where money continues to be elusive, some cities and towns are turning their assets over to private companies, hoping the private sector can find the solutions they cannot. man: in the u.s., roughly 90% of all water and wastewater systems are still publicly owned
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and publicly managed. the remaining 10% are managed by privately held companies. man: the private sector has learned to become very efficient, and frequently a municipality can save themselves a significant amount of money by bringing in a private company. this is not true in all cases. there are some exceptionally well-run municipalities, but they do have to deal with a city government system that is very hard to work within. paolicelli: there's several advantages to municipalities. they don't have to make a profit, so they're generally just trying to be break-even. and because of the importance of water, a lot of communities would be reluctant to give up control, but it is being looked at, especially on some of these troubled systems. cook: much of the business is in the mid-sized to smaller communities who have even fewer resources than the large cities, less expertise. if you take options off the table, it will be, well, what we've done for the last 40 years,
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and right now we have some real challenges. so any good manager is going to want to have a maximum number of options. allbee: you've got to have a serious conversation with your constituency about what it costs to deliver the service that you're required to deliver and to deliver the service that they want. paolicelli: and i think, ultimately, the responsibility is going to be down to the user of this commodity. it costs money to operate these systems. there's a need to continually invest in these systems. there's going to be new regulations. it's all going to cost money. allbee: for all practical purposes, people are going to have to pay about twice as much for these services as they currently do. because a lot of the pipe that went in, a lot of the plants that went in, went in with very sizable portions of federal grant money, mechanisms that are no longer in place. narrator: without grants, utilities often turn to the bond market to pay for large capital improvements.
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and although the loan is often spread of a 20- to 30-year period, user rates will increase to pay down the debt. woman: until a community accepts the willingness to pay for what they use, they won't have that money that they need to replace this failing infrastructure and improve their treatment plants so they can meet regulations and population growth. elected officials have to have enormous courage to be able to raise rates, to go out for bond levies, to deal with a situation that most people don't even see. it flushed yesterday, it flushed 10 years ago, what's the problem? narrator: atlanta is a rapidly growing urban area. its primary source of drinking water is the chattahoochee river, which also provides water to many downstream communities. but its infrastructure is dangerously old, without outdated facilities and combined sewer overflows polluting the watershed.
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the city faces strict consent decrees and lawsuits, along with a severe lack of funding. man: when i started working for the city of atlanta in the late '70s, we were approaching that point in time where a lot was going to be needed, in terms of rehabilitation and upkeep. most of the very large pipes were at least 80 years old. we had needs that were identified in the '50s and in the '60s and in the '70s that were deferred. woman: we are urging that we all try to find a way to overcome the obstacles and limitations that might exist. woman: when i was running for office, i met someone who knew mayor hartsfield, who, in the late 1960s, said, "i don't know who the next mayor will be, "but i know they'll have to fix the water and sewer infrastructure." woman: the city had chronic sewage overflows into the chattahoochee and its tributaries.